Rebel T5 - a beginner's perspective after 2 months.
On the one hand, it's the first camera I ever owned so I can't bring a whole lot of experience to the review. But I can at least rate how user-friendly it is to beginners.
This is considered the most basic, inexpensive beginner DSLR you can buy from Canon, unless you get "last year's model" ...you can get a really good deal on a Rebel T3 for something like $300, $350 bucks. I paid $550 for this camera with the kit lens.
If you already have a Rebel and were thinking "should I upgrade?" then this video will answer your question in a hilariously blunt way. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=baHqjUrykTU
But if you're looking to get into photography and want to buy your first 'serious' camera? I would cheerfully recommend this.
• With a good lens and correct settings, you will really wow yourself with the pics you take. DSLR quality vs. whatever you used before (point'n'shoot, cell phone) is a world of difference. And it will only get better as you learn what the settings do and improve your technique.
This wow effect is not specific to the Rebel, I'm just saying... if you think you might like photography and have been hesitating over the price, this is a good price for an entry level model. And the lens that comes with it is excellent for a starter lens, offering image stabilization (which is incredibly helpful, and definitely not automatically included on all lenses) and decent autofocus.
At no point did I ever think "man I can't believe I blew $550 on this thing". I have been very happy with my choice and have since then spent more than I would have ever dreamed of on lenses.
• Pretty user-friendly, when you switch modes at the top, text appears on the screen explaining what each mode does. When you hover over menu options under the quick setting menu, a popup spells out what it does.
• 18 megapixels is huuuge compared to even a couple of years ago, and more than sufficient to photograph anything in glorious detail. For reference, the older Rebel T3 is only 12. If you're new to photography you might still be hung up on the megapixel number. Don't be. The Nikon D4s, a pro-grade camera that costs $6000, released just this year, is 'only' 16 megapixels. Past a certain point, megapixels don't matter, it's how the camera renders those pixels that makes a difference.
• For a traditional DSLR (as opposed to some modern mirrorless camera or whatever else is out there) it's pretty small and light. It will still feel heavy if you're new to cameras. But with a lens we're talking 2 pounds. Pick up any full-frame camera and you'll realize the Rebel T5 is pretty portable.
• It is capable of doing almost all the useful stuff a more professional model does. Bracketed exposures to make HDRs? Absolutely. Long shutter speeds, bulb mode for time lapses? Yup. Video? Of course, and it's decent too. Live view with the ability to zoom and focus on one tiny region? Yup. Customizable menu, back button focus, exposure lock, specific focus points, custom function button, etc.? Sure.
• This will take both EF and EF-S type lenses. Meaning basically every type of lens out there that is compatible with Canons.
• Something you may not know about as a noob, but will eventually come to understand... DSLR cameras these days mostly come in two flavors, "full-frame" and "APS-C". The Rebels are the APS-C. Full-frame tend to be bigger, bulkier, pro cameras, while APS-C is the popular, cheaper, smaller format. Without getting too technical, full-frame has a larger sensor and you capture a larger area of the scene in front of you with each shot. APS-C packs the pixels more densely onto a smaller sensor, so the area captured might not be as large, but it's very detailed. This gives APS-C a slight "zoom" effect, and if you want to photograph stuff from a distance (let's say birds for example) then APS-C format might be preferable. You might logically ask "why don't they pack pixels tighter on the larger sensor and get the best of both worlds?" ...well, they did, check out the nikon d800. Big sensor, tiny pixels, the result is a massive 36 megapixels. But that's not an entry-level camera. For now, just understand that by getting an APS-C you're getting a good camera for long distance shots, that happens to also be lighter and cheaper than most.
• Built-in (albeit dinky) flash. Makes for ugly photos, but if there's no other option it beats having no pics at all. You of course have a bracket for adding a better flash if you want.
• I've come to realize this camera is a poor performer in low light. All cameras have an ISO setting that sort of helps boost their ability to capture limited light, with the tradeoff of adding noise to the pic. Some cameras are excellent at this and can almost "see in the dark". You'd expect a beginner camera like this one to be not-so-hot at doing this. But even for a beginner camera, this one's ISO ability is weak.
For reference... typically you start at ISO 100 minimum and each step higher doubles this, so it goes 100, 200, 400, 800, etc. ...this camera only goes up to 12,800, and that setting looks so awful with noise that they hide it and you have to "unlock" it. And ISO 6400 and 3200 are kind of lousy looking too. You use those settings you're desperate for a shot in very dark conditions and don't want the harsh, ugly light of a basic flash. Meanwhile, a nice camera like the Canon 5DmkIII goes up to ISO 102,400 and at ISO 3200, the results are about the same (in actual benchmarked tests) a Rebel T5 at iso 800.
• A few advanced functions are missing that I guess they figure only a pro would want to mess with. You can't calibrate the autofocus yourself, you can't select iso levels in between the doubled numbers (i.e. iso 2000, rather than having to choose 1600 or 3200). No spot metering, only 9 autofocus points.
• The sensor works with the lens to determine how fast and accurate the autofocus is. Even if you get a nice lens, the sensor's ability here is a bit weak. You're gonna have a lot of out-of-focus shots of moving objects like birds or racing vehicles or sports.
• When shooting a burst of shots at maximum (RAW) quality, you get maybe 6 or 7 shots (not particularly fast, maybe 2 per second) and then there's a lag and you're stuck at maybe one shot per second for a while as it processes them. While this camera is not something you'd buy for action shots, it does mean you're gonna get fewer keepers shooting fast-scenes (like the ones mentioned in the above point). Combine that with the weak focus on moving objects and you basically need to get lucky to get an awesome shot of dynamic scenes.
I do love my camera, and think the price is quite fair for what you're getting. It's a great starter DSLR. I've used others including full-frames and don't feel like this one is horribly lacking in anything except maybe its low-light performance. With good technique, and good lenses, you can do just about anything you want with this camera. If I could go back in time and get a different starter camera I might research something with better low-light abilities and autofocus performance, maybe even get the nikon equivalent, something like a D5200. But if you are thinking of this camera and can get a good price on it (let's say under 500 with lens) then you're getting a lot of bang for your buck.
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